MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – The full 2022 shrimping season is underway along the South Carolina coast, but economic woes may cause a challenge this year.
While the offshore shrimping began in April, which allows shrimping three miles off the coast – or in South Carolina’s provisional area – Lowcountry shrimpers can work closer to the coast as of June 1.
“Today, what we call the beaches, open for in-shore trawling. So, shrimpers are allowed to come in within, I think, a half-mile of the beach,” explained Cindy Tarvin, co-owner of Tarvin Seafood on Shem Creek.
Tarvin said the business is celebrating its 10th year. “We have two shrimp boats ourselves and we work with several others,” she said.
With local waters now open to trawling, shrimpers hope it means even more local shrimp to harvest.
“That means there’s a lot of times more shrimp. Not always, but a lot of times. They will tend to have more of a mix of sizes.”
But it’s not always easy to go out there to find the shrimp.
“You know, a number of the boats are having problems,” said Tarvin. “Mechanical, you name it.”
And another new problem this year – the dramatic increase in the price of fuel.
“A year ago, fuel was probably half what it is now. The commercial boats and the more efficient smaller boats might use 10 gallons of fuel an hour. A bigger, heavier boat is probably likely to use 25 gallons an hour,” she explained.
Tarvin said shrimp are less plentiful and there are fewer boats. “Every shrimper, or every captain anyway, has to think about whether they’re likely to catch enough shrimp that day or that trip to justify the amount of fuel that they’re spending.”
SCDNR officials set the opening date for shrimp season each year based on the conditions of the shrimp themselves. This year’s date is five days later than it was in 2021.
“Spawning has been just a little slower to progress compared with the past couple of years,” said Mel Bell, director of SCDNR’s Office of Fisheries Management. “The most important factor in setting the opening date is ensuring that we have an adequate white shrimp spawn to set us up for a good fall crop and fishery this year.”
South Carolina’s commercial shrimp season runs through the end of the year.